On February 3, the Memories of a Massacre Project kicked off its commemoration of the Memphis Massacre in 1866 with an event sponsored by LeMoyne-Owen College. In celebration of the college’s 91st celebration of Black History Month, Dr. Bobby Lovett spoke on the importance of remembering and celebrating Black History while at the same time, learning from it and appreciating the sacrifices made in the past. The school held the event at Metropolitan Baptist Church.
Following the talk, the school conducted a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the destruction of Lincoln Chapel. Founded by American Missionary Association in 1862 at Camp Shiloh in Shiloh, Tennessee, the school moved to Memphis in 1863. The school enjoyed a modicum of success but rioters destroyed the school in the Massacre of 1866. According to the testimony given by minister and teacher Rev. Ewing O. Tade to Congress after rioters destroyed the school, the people while sorrowful and depressed, remained hopeful and optimistic. The following is an exchange between a committee member and Tade.
What became of your little flock that worshiped in ‘Lincoln chapel?
Some of them have gone away and have not come back.
Have you had any place of worship since that?
Went out on Thursday morning after the burning to the ruins of the chapel. Quite number of the parents came out and large number of the children. They seemed to be very much troubled on account of it, expressed strong feelings of attachment, and so on.
“What was the spirit in which they received this thing?”
The spirit was great sorrow and depression.
“Was it feeling mingled with one of vengeance and retaliation, or was it Christian feeling?
There was not word or look or expression of envy or hatred. told them not to be discouraged; that there were ashes enough there to build another Lincoln chapel. Told them we would meet the next night on the opposite side of the street, in the shade of some cotton wood trees.”
It was out of those ashes that officials rebuilt the school that became LeMoyne-Owen College. You can listen to Dr. Lovett’s lecture here.